Georgian wine is a source of pride, pleasure, and social status. It gives people a reason to meet and take pleasure in each other’s company. It gives foreign wine lovers a warm welcome to Georgia and a vivid insight into the Georgian culture. Georgia seems inextricably intertwined with wine, and seems to be inviting the world to one long table, where everyone can toast each other, trying to live amicably on a shared planet – or terroir! Georgia produces a variety of wines for nearly every palate. Georgian wines are classified as sweet, semi-sweet, semi-dry, dry, fortified, and sparkling. Traditionally, Georgian wines carry the name of the source region, district, or village, much like French regional wines such as Bordeaux or Burgundy. There are five main regions of viticulture, the principal region being Kakheti, the most popular wine region of Georgia, which produces seventy percent of Georgia's grapes. Each village in this region has its own vineyards and gives its name to their wines: Mukuzani, Tsinandali, Akhasheni , Tvishi.
As with French wines, Georgian wines are usually a blend of two or more grapes. Some Georgian wines carry the name of the grapes they made of. Here are just a few well-known grapes you should know:
Nowadays, the process of winemaking in Georgia uses a wide range of techniques—from the traditional Georgian method of fermenting the wine in clay Qvevris, to the European process using modern equipment and techniques, like stainless steel tanks and oak barrels. Wine made today in the traditional Georgian method follows the same process Georgians have developed to make wine more than 8,000 years and this process is one of a kind.
Traditionally, the classic way of producing Georgian wine involves the country’s signature Qvevri. Before use, the Qvevris are carefully cleaned and then coated with beeswax. The process then involves pressing the grapes and then pouring the juice, grape skins, stalks and pips into the Qvevri. Then it is completely sealed to further prevent contamination and oxidation. The natural yeasts of the grapes allow fermentation without additives, and the natural tannins prevent spoilage without artificial preservatives. The vessels’ conical shape allows yeast and sediment to settle to the bottom freely while the wine is allowed to circulate within the wider center. When buried underground, Qvevri maintains the temperature of fermenting wine as modern temperature-controlled tanks do. The taste of Qvevri wines differs from barrel wines in that no oak flavor seeps into the wine.
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